An Alibates Knife

AlibatesKnifeHere’s an interesting Paleoindian biface made from banded Alibates chert.  It was apparently discovered by a local resident in the early 1970s.  The tool (knife) measures about 12 cm (4 3/4″) and is remarkably thin, with flaking consistent with other Clovis bifaces from the site.  I have used this, as well as other unusual specimens to demonstrate the wide variety of lithic tools that are part of the tool kit that are often overlooked in the popular media.  Although we cannot be certain as to it’s exact temporal placement, based on morphology, the area where it was recovered and information from the finder, I think it is most likely Clovis in age, but we will never be certain.

I decided to post this today as one of our graduate researchers, Stacey Bennett just came across the original field note from when it was returned to the Landmark in 1984.

AlibatesKnifeNotes

Blackwater Draw Atlatl 2013

A few photos from the Blackwater Draw Atlatl 2013.

Prehistory Day at the Blackwater Draw NHL

Prehistory Day was successful, due to an excellent turnout, helpful volunteers, and great weather.  A special thanks goes out to the members of Mu Alpha Nu and their friends for helping out again this year.  Nearly 300 people turned out for the event which lasted all day with people trickling in until we closed at 5:00.

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Chuck Hannaford discusses prehistoric tools and lifeways with interested visitors.

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Mary Weahkee demonstrates traditional yucca fiber working.

Demonstrations included fiber working, sandal making, flintknapping, and hunting techniques used by ancestral New Mexicans.  Discussions ranged from general archaeology to gourd canteens, stone tools, and prehistoric containers.

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Tommy Heflin teaches flintknapping to people of all ages and abilities.

The Portales flintknapping group, headed by Tommy Heflin, were a popular station at the event, helping create a new generation of flintknappers.

Every is attracted to the spear throwing range.

Everyone is attracted to the spear throwing range.  Isaiah Coan from the Office of Archaeological Studies was a great help with the kids.

The "touch-and-feel" tables create many opportunities for learning about the past and what it means to be human.

The “touch-and-feel” tables create many opportunities for learning about the past and what it means to be human.

From the abstract concept of "containers" as an artifact, a local boy learns about prehistoric life.

From the abstract concept of “containers” as an artifact, a local boy learns about prehistoric life.

Stacey Bennett shows her poster display created for the event.

Stacey Bennett shows her poster display created for the event.

We hope to keep the public outreach events a regular occurrence at Blackwater Draw.  Keep your eyes on the blog for future activities.

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Kids of all ages can get in touch with the past at these events.  Hope to see you here next year.

Bronze Age Technology

The recovered portion of the Dover Boat on display.

Robin Wood is a remarkable traditional craftsman from Britain.  He has recently been involved with replicating the Dover Boat, a Bronze Age ship discovered in 1992 (see the news article here).  The find is about 3500 years old, placing it right at the cusp of early metal-working technology.

The Oetzi axe

The reconstruction is half-scale but staying true to the technology, they are attempting to use replicated tools for much of the construction.  Pallstaves were cast from an original and hafted both like an adze and like an axe.  This isn’t speculative as there are quite a number of preserved Bronze Age examples from wet contexts in Europe.

“Pallstave” replicas.

As with other ships and boats from the Neolithic and Bronze Age, ingenious methods were used to connect the planks and stiffen the hull.  Technologically, these fall somewhere between composite dugouts and true framed ships.  There are many factors in holding together a boat including lots of movement from all angles, swelling/shrinking of the planks, and the need for light weight.  The solution on the Dover Boat was to stitch the entire thing together with yew “withes” and stiffen the body with heavy lathes driven through carved mortices.

It seems that a better candidate could not have been chosen to work on this project and I’m very glad to see that he is documenting it on his blog for all to see.

Adzing a plank by eye, leaving the mortices standing to accept the lathes. (Click the photo or link below to go to Robin’s website).

“Experiential Archaeology” in action.